Software Engineering student, Osama shares his experience
BSc (Hons) Software Engineering international student, Osama Mahmood, found the experience of studying at University transformational, considering himself a completely different person because of the support given at UCLan.
Originally from Italy, Osama came to the United Kingdom to study computing after developing a civil engineering background. He attended numerous university open day events across the country. However, he was particularly impressed with the level of enthusiasm and supportive nature of the teaching staff at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), along with the positive student feedback the course had gained.
Once started on the BSc (Hons) Software Engineering course, Osama was worried whether his lack of programming skills would cause performance issues. Thankfully, UCLan offers a vast array of support designed to get new students up to the required level if they have no prior programming knowledge. He initially attended the one-hour dedicated support session on programming for beginners, where he grasped the core concepts, learning quickly from the high-quality teaching offered:
"Having a programming knowledge would probably help,but it is not essential as there is plenty of extra support and opportunities available to get you up to standard."— Osama Mahmood, BSc Software Engineering student
When Osama joined UCLan, he had a limited ability to speak and write in English. Fortunately, he had no issues with understanding the tutors as they spoke clearly. Sometimes he struggled to understand his peer's accents as the course recruits students from all over the world. In the first semester, Osama started to feel defeated by the language barrier. Considering giving up, his tutors recognised Osama’s worries and encouraged him to carry on. They provided extra support both within the computer science department and other student support areas the University offers.
He was introduced to a three-week English language development course designed to help students with speech and academic writing skills when English is not their first language. In his course-related support sessions, he praised his tutor's willingness to re-explain something multiple times until he understood. Osama gained more confidence in spoken English, and the topics taught in his course as time passed. By the second semester, he felt "like a completely different person", motivated by his tutors, peers and the extra support that the University provides to any student who needs it.
Osama's leading decision-maker for choosing UCLan was the option students have available to swap computing-related courses at the end of their first year. All UCLan computing courses are taught a common first year, giving them an overview of everything the subject offers. This includes network technology, games development, cyber security and software engineering. Students can decide to continue to specialise in their original chosen area, or if they have found a more exciting path, switch to study their remaining years in another area of computing. This gives students the flexibility to change their mind and discover their interests with less pressure to get it right in the application stage.
Other unique features that Osama was impressed with was the 24-hour access all computing students have to the C&T building, and the course structure that consists of a one-hour lecture followed by a two-hour workshop. On the latter, he spoke about his Mobile Computing workshop, where he was able to submit lab sheet work and gain feedback on what he had done well and what he could do to improve in the future.
"The act of just sitting in near silence amongst other students studying encouraged me to study even more. I would sometimes spend three or four hours in the library, without even noticing."
Osama has access to hundreds of computers, endless books and e-resources, and countless independent and group working areas within the library building, all open 24-hours a day in term-time.
Now mid-way through his second year on the course, the University’s Careers Support Team is starting to make Osama aware of what career options he will have available upon graduation. The skills and experience that he'll have at the end of his time at UCLan will put him in an excellent position to gain employment in any computing area, not just software engineering, and Osama plans to look for opportunities in Pakistan and Italy in the future.
"After attending numerous open days at universities across the country, UCLan was my first choice. I have no regrets choosing UCLan."— Osama Mahmood, BSc Software Engineering student